There is nothing I admire more than someone stepping out of their comfort zone and deciding they are going to so something.

Tonight I witnessed 26 strangers come together and make a stand by taking that step out the door and saying “I’m going to do this.” Whether it was to get fitter, lose weight, do something with friends or just to meet new people, they were there.

I was flattered that Dermot…yeah him again…asked if I was going to put in a guest appearance at the latest addition to The Running Coaches schedule in Newcastle.

OK I’m sure he was taking the piss when he asked but nonetheless I called in my own moral support and Caitriona and myself popped our heads in as people stirred out their car windows and debated about opening their doors to take on the Coached to 5k session.

We honestly had planned just to say hello and go for a dander as we have Time Trail tomorrow night but ended up actually doing the session. 

As the number of very impressively turned out runners cautiously approached the group…I’ve never seen so many high vis jackets all together. There was no missing this squad.

Nervous, uncertain and probably feeling way out of their depth, I’m sure as individuals they didn’t realise everyone else felt the same.

What they hadn’t realised though was that they had already conquered the hardest step, the one out the door. It was essentially the first real night of winter as the wind literally howled and warnings of snow ahead it would have been so much easier to just say nah some other time.

As the session pleasantries where over and warm up began, everyone was in high spirits. I could see on the faces of some that the warm up alone was me I have been there and remember thinking after my first “Death by Dermot” warm up that I wasn’t going to be fit to put one foot in front of the other after I finished. So it does get easier!

Nothing beats a visit back to fundamentals and techniques refreshing. It’s even been put in as part of my training plan now..on Mondays funny enough. Drop those shoulders, keep the head up, arms at 90 degrees, you know the drill.

As we set off in pairs Caitriona and I decided our place was firmly at the back…nothing new there. At least this meant that no one felt any pressure to break away from the crowd as we wouldn’t leave a man behind. After all I always think about Dambusters Half and how after half a mile we had watched the speedies fly away off and we settled into our own pace and were very comfortable in our own skin to be there. 13.1 mile later and we both finished a few minutes apart in the toughest half marathon of the series in horrendous conditions. But to get to that stage of believe in your training it takes a lot of falling behind and self reflections to be comfortable with it. So we weren’t for letting anyone begin to comprehend that. Running is inclusive whether you run a 6minute mile or a 16minute mile. It’s still a mile.

As a steady walk run continued up the promenade we were met by a fierce head wind. That alone was a struggle to push through but the group was determined and kept it steady and pushed on. 

A brief lesson in the car park to fix style and technique *reminding myself what old habits I’ve fallen into* and it was time for the return journey.

At a pretty good pace we went back down the promenade and enjoyed a strong tailwind. Bouncing across the bridge and praying the impact didn’t bounce one of us over the edge, we made it back to solid ground, all accounted for. 

Finishing up with 2 mile under their belts, the look of relief, satisfaction and accomplishment could be seen across the faces of all the runners. A nice set of cool down stretches and the session was over.

So week 1 done, a great bunch of people taking the first big steps to endless possibilities. Running has helped me in so many ways both mentally and nd physically and the benefits are numerous. I wish every single person who this week or maybe next, takes that step out the door and starts putting one foot in front of the other, the best of luck with their journey. 

I can’t wait to see how the group fairs over the next 6 weeks, it’ll not be long before they’ll be lapping me at parkrun. Onwards and upwards so they say!


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